“Florida’s law allowing the death penalty for child rapists is now in effect,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a post on social media. “The minimum sentence is life in prison without parole. In Florida, anyone who harms children in such a horrific way will never walk free.”
DeSantis signed HB 1297 in May, and the statute took effect on Sunday. The law states that “a person who commits a sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age carries a great risk of death and danger to vulnerable members of this state.”
“Such crimes destroy the innocence of a young child and violate all standards of decency held by civilized society,” the statute says, noting that the Florida Legislature determined that both Buford v. State of Florida and Kennedy v. Louisiana, cases in which the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court held that the death penalty for child rape was cruel and unusual, were “wrongly decided and an egregious infringement of the states’ power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”
DeSantis said in May that he thinks the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling on capital punishment was “wrong,” suggesting that Florida’s new law may enable the justices to reconsider the ruling on the matter.
“This bill sets up a procedure to be able to challenge that precedent and to be able to say that, in Florida, we think that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment,” he said at the time.
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